Never judge a book by its cover.
Sons of Anarchy's Season 5 premiere proved that old adage once again with the introduction of gangster Damon Pope (Lost's Harold Perrineau). Unlike his crew, the One-Niners, Pope is a well-dressed businessman who could seemingly never be mistaken as an outlaw or a thug.
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"I always envisioned this guy as being [the] kind of guy who has sort of risen above the street and has learned to carry himself in the community," creator Kurt Sutter tells TVGuide.com. "It's a different kind of bad guy. It's a different kind of antagonist for [the club]. I love the fact that he does carry himself with a certain amount of decorum."
But by the end of the premiere, Pope's true colors came out when he exacted revenge on Tig (Kim Coates), who foolishly killed Pope's daughter in what he believed was retaliation for an attempted hit on Clay (Ron Perlman). Instead of killing Tig, Pope chained him up and forced him to watch as Pope's associates burned Tig's daughter Dawn alive.
"Look, I love pushing the envelope — I think it's a signature of the show," Sutter says. "But I feel like my job ... is rooting that stuff in character so that it doesn't feel like a stunt. What's the most heinous thing [Pope] can do to this guy? It was important for me to say this is what Pope is capable of. Don't let the nice suit, the good teeth, the expensive car, the good speech fool you. He's a dude who's capable of doing this... horrendous, awful thing. You realize, 'I can never f--- with this guy.'"
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Sutter promises that Tig's tragedy will greatly alter his relationship with Jax (Charlie Hunnam) and may forever break his ties with Clay. "In the first couple of episodes, we see how betrayed Tig feels by Clay," Sutter says. "Ultimately, Clay had this opportunity to tell him the truth and couldn't. That relationship really stays strained for most of the season. It's not easily repaired."
As for how Jax and the club will respond to Pope's fiery actions, Sutter again hopes to subvert expectations. Rather than continuing to come after Pope, Jax will actually come under his tutelage a bit as he tries to find what kind of leader he wants to become.
"We don't see a ton of [Pope] in the season. He's really more the presence that's out there impacting these guys," Sutter says. "It's almost like he's off in the background smoldering and simmering. But what we're able to set up is this interesting odd mentorship that's starting to happen. There's something in Jax that Pope sees that sort of reminds him of himself.
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"You can see how this guy ultimately seduces the street," Sutter continues. "He's fatherly. He tells you how great you can be. He builds you up. It's that sort of pimp mentality. Jax seems to be seduced by that a little bit. "
Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on FX. What did you think of Pope's introduction and the Season 5 premiere overall?